Megan Del Borrello is an entrepreneur at heart with a passion for empowering women, having experienced gender bias in her professional career. She is the Director of Gloss Marketing Communications and Behind the Brands.
Megan has over 15 years marketing experience, and is a member of the Australian Institute of Marketing and a Board Member and the Marketing and Communications Chair of 100 Women a Perth based not for profit.
At the core of her professional drive and through circumstances in both her personal and professional life is a desire to empower and inspire women and to impart her knowledge and experiences to female entrepreneurs.
What did you want to be when you left school? Did you study?
I wanted to be a lawyer up until about year 10, then I started to want to do marketing. Towards the end of Year 12 I contracted Glandular Fever so it threw all my plans for the next year. I was sick for about 8 months so I ended up going to TAFE and got a Diploma in Marketing Management. I then went and did a Diploma in Multimedia as well.
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
I always wanted to have my own business. Even when I was younger and worked for people I didn’t enjoy it. It was a great learning curve but I wanted to do something for myself.
When we were younger my brother and I would take roses from the garden and put them in the microwave to dry them and then spray my Dads aftershave on them and sell them to the neighbours as pot pouri.
Was your entrepreneurial journey linked to your personal one?
100% it was and still is. Previously to starting Gloss and Behind the Brands I was Managing Director of a digital agency and my business partner there was such an egotistical tyrant, who possessed no leadership skills and created a toxic work environment. He very much tried to create a boy’s club environment.
My business partner in Gloss and Behind the Brands, Kat, worked for me at the agency and we happened to fall pregnant within 7 weeks of each other. The day Kat gave birth to her daughter my waters broke and 32 at half weeks. My daughter was eventually born at 35 weeks.
When my daughter was 6 weeks old, and a day before my Pop’s funeral, I went into work to meet with my business partner at the time, for what I thought would be a discussion over some issues that had been brought to my attention and had been happening over the previous few weeks. This was the first time I had seen my business partner since giving birth and when he saw me his very first words to me were “You’re still fat.”. In that moment I thought, what in the hell am I doing here. I resigned on the spot, spun around, went to my office, cleared it out and never looked back. I got in the car, rang Kat, and said I just resigned, you’re resigning too and we’re starting a business.
Initially, what difficulties did you face?
The biggest hurdle was that we had newborns and we’re trying to start a company so we were very limited for time. That being said we made clients aware early on that we did have babies and even now that we have young children so they know that some days we aren’t available. For the most part, all our clients have been wonderful about it and in the early days the babies came to a lot of meetings with us. I mean who doesn’t love to cuddle a baby! Even recently when a client has needed to see me last minute and I’m with my daughter I’ve taken her along to the meeting.
And coming from a business where I had 30 staff to one where it was just Kat and I was a big learning curve. As it was just us we had to do everything ourselves.
What do you think was the biggest mistake you made in business?
Focusing on growth and then growing too fast which led us to employing someone. We didn’t have the structure in place yet and were still trying to work out how to balance work with the babies. We really should have focused on the type of client we wanted to have and then increased the days we worked, essentially working smarter.
In the early day’s all our profit went to paying someone!
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
It was a hard decision to make at the time, but we let 2 clients go, one was our biggest! We realized that our values didn’t match and that they had issues internally in their business which was making our job difficult. And because we were associated with them, our brand started to get affected.
We can now say it was the best decision we made as we are more selective as to who we work with, to ensure an ongoing relationship.
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Trust your instincts, they are generally right. If something doesn’t feel right, then it’s probably not. And don’t lose sight of why you are wanting to start your business, don’t focus on revenue, because if you do it will show and people will be put off by this.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
Always treat young employees, interns etc with respect and teach them the skills they need to progress their career. It’s unrealistic to expect them to stay with you forever and one day they could be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
What do you think your key to success has been?
Resilience and perseverance. A lot has been thrown at me but I refuse to give up. I have a thick skin and don’t take things personally. There are always going to be detractors and if you spend your time worrying about them you will never be able to move past them.
I gained strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which I had. And I just went for it.
Other than your business, what other hats do you wear?
I also sit on the board of 100 Women – a Perth based giving circle. Our mission is to ignite women’s philanthropy through the power of collective giving to advance the empowerment of all women and girls. I chair the marketing and communications subcommittee.
Women face a lot of challenges that extend well beyond the pay gap, some of which I have experienced personally. I for one am extremely passionate about the empowerment of women and one of the reasons I joined 100 Women.
Do you have any tips for those struggling to gain a successful work life balance?
I really don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect work life balance. As an entrepreneur, you live and breathe your business and its about having priorities, there is always going to be one area in your life where you have no balance. For me my family and exercise are priorities. My social life is non-existent, but as I go to a lot of events for work I don’t feel that as much.
I always put my family first as that’s what’s most important to me.
How have your kids impacted the way you structure your day?
You learn to become very, very organized! 3 days a week my daughter is looked after. I try to only have one day a week where I have meetings etc as I need the other 2 days to execute my work. Mondays and Thursdays are spent with my daughter. On those day’s we go to jungle gym, food shopping, general running around!
I work most nights after my husband goes to bed as he starts early, also when my daughter has her lunchtime nap. Except Thursdays as I really try to make that my time and watch TV shows I have recorded. I also work half day on the weekends, so my husband can have one on one time with our daughter.
It’s about finding a schedule that works best for you. One rule I have is when I’m with my daughter I focus my attention on her. The laptop doesn’t come out. She will be in Kindy next year and I don’t want to miss that time with her.
What is your favourite thing to do in your downtime?
It’s not downtime as such but I like to walk the dog every day down by the river. It clears my head and gets me into the fresh air and mostly sunshine. I also like to read a lot.